Free smoke detectors installed in Nassau homes by Red Cross, Assemb. Solages

Free smoke detectors installed in Nassau homes by Red Cross, Assemb. Solages

The American Red Cross and a Nassau County state legislator teamed up to help fireproof homes by installing free smoke detectors in a dozen of them while raising fire safety awareness.

Holiday lights, space heaters and candles cause an increase in house fires during the cold winter season, so to help residents sleep easier at night, volunteers from the Red Cross on Long Island and Assemb. Michaelle Solages (D-Elmont) fanned out to several Elmont and Valley Stream homes with the life-saving alarms in tow.

“We realize house fires are preventable and time and again we unfortunately see more individuals and children die in these house fires, so the best thing you can do to prevent these deaths is to get a free smoke alarm,” Solages said. This is her second year in partnership with the organization.

Equipped with a ladder, a drill and boxes of $50 smoke detectors, a small crew went to work Saturday morning, placing the devices in several key areas, including bedrooms, dining rooms and hallways. Expected to last 10 years, they are not recommended for use in the kitchen or near cooking appliances, where the appliances would likely go off arbitrarily and become a nuisance.

“It’s amazing how sensitive they are,” said Jose Dominguez, CEO of the Long Island Red Cross. “That’s often when people decide to take it out.”

On Newburgh Street in Elmont, 64-year-old Olga Sarabia had seven detectors installed in her home. Sarabia said her husband is responsible for maintenance and no one has overseen fire safety since he died in 2004.

“He took care of all the maintenance of the house and I didn’t follow it up,” says Sarabia, who reached out to Solages’ office after receiving a notice. “I really needed them. Even if I bought it, I wouldn’t know where to put it, so it’s really great.”

According to the Red Cross, house fires nationwide kill an average of seven people per day, causing more annual deaths than all other natural disasters combined. Most deaths occur in homes without working fire alarms. The organization has helped protect more than 4,000 Long Island households while installing more than 13,000 alarms since 2014.

Lori Pizzarelli, a Red Cross Long Island home fire team leader, shared several tips, stressing that appliances should be plugged directly into wall outlets, and space heaters and fireplaces should be kept three feet from anything flammable. She also warned people to stay away from dollar store extension cords and power strips and instead buy one with the approval of Underwriters Laboratory (UL).

Other recommendations include purchasing an ABC-rated fire extinguisher that extinguishes grease and electrical fires as well as flames caused by paper or cloth. Equally important are a carbon monoxide detector and a fire escape for rooms on the second floor, plus reflective outdoor decals displaying the house number. The Red Cross also recommends practicing a two-minute fire escape plan.

Myrtha Robin, 64, who lives with her 92-year-old mother in Valley Stream, said she wasn’t sure if her alarms were working when she signed up for the free service.

“I want to keep her safe,” Robin said. “There were too many incidents of fire that took place in the neighborhood.”

“Sometimes they get older and I’m a single woman, so my son has to make sure they work,” she said. “If a professional comes to install for me, then I know it’s safe.”

Free smoke alarms

How residents can get free fire alarms, home installation and fire safety information:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *